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Need help starting out!

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  • Need help starting out!

    I'm new to this forum, so firstly "G'day" to everybody. I find the forum to be chocked full of great information provided by some very, very talented and helpful people.

    I'm semi-retired and took Lathe 101 as a night class a few years ago at a junior college. I really enjoyed the class and learning a little bit about machining. However, that was the last class the college ever offered! My education stopped, so basically I'm pretty much of a beginner.

    My interest is tinkering with old motorcycles. I find some of the engine parts very hard to find. I would like to learn to machine parts like shafts, gears sprockets etc, etc. I have ordered some of Rudy's DVDs from the states and will rent some of Darrell Holland DVDs when I visit my kids in Texas in May (I am an American living in Australia).

    My questions:

    Is it feasible to make shafts, gears, sprockets, etc in a home machine shop?

    What equipment and what size equipment is required?

    What approach would be best to learn the skill set to make motorcycle parts? I have no real interest in model making, but if making model engines like Jerry Howell's models to gain the skill set, I would sure give it a go. Any other approaches recommended? I'll be talking to some vintage engine restoration guys this week-end to get some spin on their approach.

    I would be more inclined to make full progressively more difficult full size motorcycle engine parts, but I'm not aware that instructional plans are offered for anything other than models. However, I am open to any suggestion!!

    Thanks for the help!!

  • #2
    What equipment and what size equipment is required?
    Never has so much been asked of so many by so few words.

    Welcome to the forum
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


    • #3
      welcome to the board. You ask a broad question. The lathe and the mill are the two basic pieces of shop equipment .A rotatry table or indexing head is required for gear work. as for size it depends on the size of the parts you need to machine. you can do small parts on a big machine but not visa versa.
      Ad maiorem dei gloriam - Ad vitam paramus


      • #4
        I started out with a file and a vise.. Proceeded to start buying tools and have not stopped yet.

        Once to you get to that point, it depends on whether you are having tools as a hobby or building things with the tools. Some people here, thier tools look like they belong in a museum, others like me, thier tools look like crap, ran hard and put up wet. My tools build for my hobby.

        Australia huh? Too far to drink coffee and BS.. unless we do it here.

        MY last gadget purchased? A southbend shaper, and rotary table, cnc motors, drives to make sprockets and gears.. spliner, notcher.. and software headache.
        Last edited by Dawai; 02-26-2007, 06:12 PM.
        Excuse me, I farted.


        • #5
          Well beinging a motorcyclist my self,I will try to answer. A 12- 14inch swing lathe would help. A virtical mill Bridgeport style is a must.Dividing head and assorited tooling for each machine. Some kind of band saw for cutting material and sheet metal. That should get you started . From their who knows. The biggest problem with the Motorcycle parts is engine parts need to be heat treated and ground to size,So I guess some kind of OD gronder or Tool post grinder . That is all something to think about.
          Every Mans Work Is A Portrait of Him Self


          • #6
            Motorcycle Sheetmetal? How to's for english wheels, planishing hammers, die hammers, Plans, use and lots more information than any other site on the net.

            People there, thier first motorcycle gas tanks look better than the ones I bend up and throw into the woods behind my shop (in disgust) for sure. I have been hustled in pool too thou.

            AND I have been at this for a few years. I beat the heck outa the metal over a sand bag then wheel it to smoothe it out.

            Doing HD flywheels? a pretty good lathe can be bought for what the truing stand costs, and guess what? it trues too.
            Excuse me, I farted.


            • #7
              One thing about machining is you start with one thought in mind as in making motor cycle parts and slide into doing something else.
              As in my case I wanted to build rifles when I started and now I am into building small steam engines.
              As has been stated a 13X40 inch lathe and a 9X42 inch bridgeport type mill would be a good start.
              Don\'t ask me to do a dam thing, I\'m retired.


              • #8

                I want to thank everyone for their support and helpful responses. I'm still unsure of the approach to take in developing the skill set.

                Right now, the two things that come to mind for my "apprenticeship" are model engine building and vintage engine restoration. I think either will be an interesting journey. A journey not to be rushed, but enjoyed.

                Mind sharing your thoughts about how/where to start, maybe thinking back to when you were just a "newbie". Maybe like me now, know how to spell "lathe", but that's about it!!!

                Thanks from the Darling Downs of Southeast Queensland


                • #9
                  Geezer, welcome.....

                  Welcome aboard this group;
                  You've really asked an open ended question. As many have already said, this is a big field/ hobby/ addiction. If you've lurked around here, you'll know that there are hobbiests & pro's on here. Some run businesses (like Mark Hockett, Iowolf, John Stevenson, CCWKen, Torker etc.) some of us are part timers who repair stuff, (I'm really an HVAC & sheet metal guy who machines to make/ modify pump, fan, motor parts & somewhat for a hobby.) and then there are the hobbyists and retired people like Forrest Addey with great shop equipment & skills and Evan who insists on building everything with a 9 in. South Bend & a drillpress. (His workmanship is outstanding. Oh, he does own a big old shaper and a soon-to-be CNC mill.)
                  BTW, I started as a motorcyclist and wanna be road racer. Built engines etc.
                  The machinist hobby is addictive. I have also worked as a machine operator in a couple of shops. I now spend a lot of time building tools & even the odd machine (tooling, taper attachments, horizontal mill) that I never knew I'd need. I've got lots of shop related projects to do, so I'll probably never have to build another steam engine. I do some work for other machine addicts too, mainly parts for Brown-Boggs sheet metal machines.
                  Just beware that you don't just become a machine collector....
                  Have fun doing it, no matter what part of the hobby you fall into.


                  • #10
                    Hey! I have three drill presses.
                    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Evan
                      Hey! I have three drill presses.

                      I have three drill presses too. But I never use them after I got my bridgeport clone...


                      • #12
                        Being a newbie myself I'll jump in here . I think the 1st thing you need to decide is whether you want rescue/restore old iron or go with new Asian equipment. I fell into old American iron and after tearing them completely apart and starting all over again I will at least know my machines. The downside is I'm afraid I'll discover something horribly worn along the way.

                        But there's lots of guys making nice stuff on Asian equipment. Taiwan is usually preferred but if you read along for awhile I do believe there's some decent Chinese out there.

                        There's also a myriad of tools machinists use that like me you've probably never seen, but when ya see something you don't know about pipe up and ask. Good people here that never fail to amaze me.

                        Carbide vs HSS cutting tools is another for the newb to ponder. HSS means "grinding yer own" and I won't feel competent until I've learned, but mostly I've used carbide so far to reduce the confusion factor.

                        It's definitely an addictive hobby. I can't seem to leave it alone .....



                        • #13
                          Welcome Geezer,
                          I am also an American in OZ, but I have been here nearly all my life! I was only six months old when I got here!, I hope you enjoy the hobby I am trade qualified and still are not sure what I want to do, I like fixing and modifying stuff, I am not too sure about making stuff in miniature! (Too fiddly)
                          but I am sure you will find something that suits you! If you don't like,or can't get something to work, try something else for a while until you feel confident and then move back above all enjoy yourself!


                          • #14
                            "I started out with a file and a vise.."
                            Sh1t! I didn't even have a vice, just a G-cramp and a fencepost
                            G'day from WA
                            Just got my head together
                            now my body's falling apart


                            • #15
                              If you can get old copies of the home shop machinest, Machinest work shop or live steam they have projects that if you follow the artical you can learn a lot about using the lathe and mill. The projects are disigned for the guy that has small equiptment.

                              Also Southbend published a small book many years ago called "How to run a Lathe" it has been out of print for many years but the other day when I was in the local tool store thay had reprints laying on the shelf. I did not see what they were selling for.

                              The Villiage press, publisher of the Home Shop Machinest, has hard bound books that have many of the projects that villiage press has published in the Mag. They are kind of expensive but as a teacher once told me "education is expensive".

                              Hope this information is some what what you are looking for.
                              Don\'t ask me to do a dam thing, I\'m retired.